The case for nationalism

The case for nationalism
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The greatest strength of the United States has been the ability to accept different people from all over the world while maintaining the core themes of what it means to be an American citizen. Our belief in the Constitution, freedom, liberty, and justice triumphs over any noticeable differences in religion or ethnicity because it is understood that without those core tenets, this country could not exist in its current form. Despite this, the notion of love for country and the values that a country represents have seemingly been twisted in a negative by those who seek utopian bliss.

So how have we been led to believe that nationalism is a bad thing? The idea has been masked in confusion as of late and is one of the greatest casualties of the political battle between the left and right. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines the term “nationalism” as describing two phenomena: “the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their national identity” and “the actions that the members of a nation take when seeking to achieve (or sustain) self-determination.”


Those on the ideological left have gone out of their way to broaden the definition of classical nationalism with one of its negative variations, ethno nationalism, which is indeed different in that it prioritizes an ethno culture over all other ethnicities. Of course, ethno nationalism would never be accepted in this country because an overwhelming majority of us recognize the United States is made up of many different people.

University of North Carolina history professor Lloyd Kramer declared in a 2011 interview that like several other ideological “isms,” nationalism has aspects that are good and bad. In the United States, we have taken many measures to raise one form over the other, but to merge the two without making distinctions is disingenuous and runs afoul of the shared culture and traditions that all citizens of our country cherish and participate in.

In the case of nationalism in the United States, the good has outweighed the bad, and Americans have benefited tremendously. “When people feel committed to larger communities or interests or ideas of human rights and political progress, for example, nationalism can contribute to a sense of hope about the future. It can build positive personal and collective identities and a sense of selfhood in the modern world,” Kramer stated.

Political theorist Sir Roger Scruton reminds us, “Everything is imperfect, but the question is, what parts of what we have inherited can be improved and amended? What parts must be thrown away?” In the United States, citizens and statesmen alike have worked hard to improve and amend, as well as abandon in some cases, our normative inheritances. Whether they were born here or immigrated here, all Americans feel a sense of duty to strengthen the very idea of what it means to be a United States citizen.

According to Pew Research Center, a significant majority of Americans at 85 percent believe that the United States stands above all other countries in the world. This is critically important for a country that is as diverse as the United States because it is essential to preserving, protecting, and sustaining our American culture, which merges many cultures into one.

As more people seek to come to this country in search of the American dream, it is vital for the citizens of the United States to ensure the cultural values rooted in the American experience are preserved. The moment Americans cave to the extreme ideological forces that want to change our traditions will be the moment the United States experiences its demise.

Shermichael Singleton is a Republican strategist and contributing host of “Consider It” on Vox Media. You can follow him on Twitter @Shermichael_.